“We came out a little flat today, but we were able to fight back and get a good win,” Patrick said. “We weren’t very aggressive and didn’t take the match to Illinois until it was almost too late. Our (doubles) win at the third spot gave our other two teams an energy boost though, and allowed them to get back on track. Once we got the momentum we were able to keep control of it and finish off the match.”
In his 21st year with the Lady Vols, Patrick is the program’s winningest coach with a mark of 344-206 (.625). Prior to his time in Knoxville, he put up a record of 47-12 (.797) in two years as the head coach at Kentucky, as well as a 9-16 (.360) record as the leader of the men’s team at Arkansas in 1986-87. Overall, his career record stands at 400-234 (.631) in 23 total years of coaching.
It took a while, but once the Big Orange got rolling in doubles play, it was nearly unstoppable. Although freshman Jennifer Meredith and junior Samantha Orlin gave Tennessee the early advantage with an 8-4 triumph over Shivani Davé and Kristina Minor on the third court, it did not look good for the Lady Vols, as they were down to their last game, trailing 4-7, in both of their other matches.
Neither the 26th-ranked duo of senior Ghizela Schutte and freshman Rosalía Alda nor the No. 2-rated tandem of sophomores Caitlin Whoriskey and Zsófia Zubor were going to go down without a fight, however.
Both squads were able to claw their way back, winning three consecutive games, to tie their respective contests at 7-7. The Fighting Illini weren’t willing to concede either match though and regained the lead on both courts, threatening to become the first team to take the doubles point from UT this season. Illinois’ efforts were in vain, however, as both Tennessee teams rallied once again to deadlock their contests at 8-all.
In their tiebreaker, Alda and Schutte made sure that the Orange and White remained perfect in doubles play this season, easily claiming a 7-2 win and giving UT the initial lead of the match. Whoriskey and Zubor followed suit just moments later. After splitting the first eight points of the tiebreaker, the Tennessee tandem won the final three to secure its third dual-match triumph and 16th overall victory of the season.
Whoriskey continued her stellar play in singles action, earning her third win on center court this year with a straight-set, 6-0, 6-4, triumph over Megan Fudge. The Big Orange lead moved to three when Meredith closed out a 6-2, 6-2, victory against Momei Qu from the fourth position in the singles lineup.
The match-clinching win belonged to Orlin on court three, as she notched a come-from-behind victory to seal the Tennessee win. The Miami, Fla., native had to make up some ground early, after falling behind 5-2 in the first set. She was able to do just that, however, winning the final five games of the frame. She then claimed the second set by the score of 6-2.
The Lady Vols’ final two points came at the second and sixth positions, where Schutte and Alda each picked up wins. Schutte dispatched Finnegan in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, while Alda won an extremely tight contest with Davé, 7-5, 7-6 (2). The lone point for Illinois was earned by Minor, who defeated the 95th-ranked Zubor, 1-6, 6-4, 1-0 (6), on court five.
The Orange and White will have little time to relish the victory, as it will hit the courts once again tomorrow afternoon against No. 49 Purdue. First serve is set for 1 p.m. at the Knoxville Racquet Club. Following that contest, the Lady Vols will hit the road for six consecutive matches, beginning with a 2 p.m. showdown with No. 21 Wake Forest on Sunday, Feb. 3.
|#22 University of Tennessee 6, University of Illinois 1|
|1. Caitlin Whoriskey (UT) def. Megan Fudge (ILL)||6-0, 6-4|
|2. Ghizela Schutte (UT) def. Leigh Finnegan (ILL)||6-4, 6-3|
|3. Samantha Orlin (UT) def. Marisa Lambropoulous (ILL)||7-5, 6-2|
|4. Jennifer Meredith (UT) def. Momei Qu (ILL)||6-2, 6-2|
|5. Kristina Minor (ILL) def. #95 Zsofia Zubor (UT)||1-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-6)|
|6. Rosalia Alda (UT) def. Shivani Dave (ILL)||7-5, 7-6 (7-2)|
|1. #2 Caitlin Whoriskey/Zsofia Zubor (UT) def. Megan Fudge/Leigh Finnegan (ILL)||9-8 (7-4)|
|2. #26 Rosalia Alda/Ghizela Schutte (UT) def. Anni McCarthy/Marisa Lambropoulous (ILL)||9-8 (7-2)|
|3. Samantha Orlin/Jennifer Meredith (UT) def. Kristina Minor/Shivani Dave (ILL)||8-4|